Monday, October 15, 2012

Cider - Take One

Fall is in full swing here in Western Montana. The trees are bursting with color, the nights have grown cool and crisp and the days are quickly growing shorter. Pumpkins are beginning to appear on neighbors' doorsteps, soon to become jack-o-lanterns. With all of this standard fall activity, I decided to try something new: home-brewing cider.

At the farm that I work on we have an old manual-style apple grinder and press. It is built of heavy oak and cast iron, staples of an industrious bygone era. Sunday I made my way up to the farm with a couple of friends and we fresh pressed about 130 ounces of cider from Montana-grown honeycrisp apples. Unfortunately, because apples are so expensive- I was forced to mix our fresh cider with three gallons of store bought cider (preservative free of course!). The combined cider was mixed with about a cup and a half of raw unbleached sugar in a 5 gallon carboy that I bought at Summer Sun Brew & Garden.
I opted for using a British Ale yeast instead of the champagne yeast that was originally recommended to me. My hope is that by doing this the cider will retain more of its' natural sweetness and apple flavor. From what I have read, using champagne yeast tends to result in a very dry end product. 

Fermentation began late last night, and I expect it to continue for at least a couple of weeks. Already much of the suspended solids within the carboy have fallen and the cider has taken on a lighter yellow hue. In 2-3 weeks I will rack the cider into a second carboy for secondary fermentation, and from there, on to bottling. I only hope my first attempt is successful!

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